Morning Rituals

Mornings. I love them. I became a morning person in college when I was introduced to crew at Harvard. The stillness of the city, the sunrise over the Charles, and the camaraderie of 5:30 am meets at the boathouse forever changed me.

I am often asked about my morning routines – beauty and otherwise. I wrote about this a couple of years ago here, some things are the same, some have evolved.

For many years, I woke up at 5 am. For the past year, I have been waking up between 4:30 and 4:50 am on weekdays. Somehow, those minutes before 5 am seem particularly precious. By 6 am, I am working (in the office or on the road), or working out (running or SoulCycle).

What I do:

  • I get out of bed immediately. No snoozing for me.
  • I light a candle. I love Aveda Shampure candles and have them all around the house. Lighting them makes the house smell good and feels like an act of kindness and sophistication that I do just for myself.
  • I make my bed. It looks good, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something, like I have control over my surroundings. (Even Navy SEALS feel this way about this small task)
  • I check my phone (emails, social media). Everything I have read about morning routines says not to do this. For a while, I tried not to do it – but that frustrated me to no end and did not contribute positively to my mornings. So I do it, unapologetically!

What I think about:

  • What am I looking forward to today? This can be a work project, a meeting, a trip, date night… Starting my day with something specific to look forward to helps me get out of bed.
  • What are the three most important things I need to accomplish today. I have an endless to-do list, so prioritizing three daily goals helps me stay on target.

What I eat and drink:

  • A tall glass of water with one Emergen-C Super Orange packet. If the rest of the day goes crazy, at least I will have done something good for myself!
  • I have the same Krups coffee maker I bought during my freshman year in college, and I love it! It makes the best coffee. Milk if I have it in the fridge (which is infrequently!), otherwise black.
  • No breakfast. I stopped eating breakfast a few years ago, when I realized that the Danone vanilla yogurts I was eating every morning were nothing but sugar. I have not missed them (or breakfast) since.

My beauty routine (post workout if I work out that morning): 

One ritual I am trying to add to my routine is to use the free weights I got over a year ago to strengthen my arms and shoulders. So yesterday I took them out of their dark closet and put them by my full-length mirror… let’s see seeing them helps me use them…




Most valuable brands: Interbrand's, and mine

I love the global brand scoreboard that Interbrand puts together every year, listing the top 100 global brands. They have strict criteria, including the following (quoting Interbrand): “The brand must be truly global and needs to have successfully transcended geographic and cultural boundaries. It must have expanded across the established economic centers of the world and be establishing a presence in the major markets of the future. In measurable terms, this requires that:

  • At least 30% of revenues must come from outside the brand’s home country
  • It must have a presence in at least three major continents, as well as broad geographic coverage in emerging markets
  • There must be sufficient publicly available data on the brand’s financial performance
  • Economic profit must be expected to be positive over the longer term, delivering a return above the brand’s operating and financing costs
  • The brand must have a public profile and awareness above and beyond its own marketplace”

In continuing to pursue my “paperless goal,” I came across the 2003 listing (torn out of a magazine and kept all these years), which made me ponder not only the evolution of society over the last decade (nothing says something about a people as do the brands they love: we still drink soda and eat fast-food, we smoke less, and are completely addicted to our smartphones and accessing information anytime and everywhere), but also which of these brands I love, relate to, and turn to every day.

For a complete listing of the 2013 Interbrand scoreboard, click here. For a more edited list, here is a comparison from 2003 to 2013, of the top 10:

Ranking 2003 2013
1 Coca-Cola Apple
2 Microsoft Google
3 IBM Coca-Cola
5 Intel Micosoft
6 Nokia GE
7 Disney McDonalds
8 McDonalds Samsung
9 Marlboro Intel
10 Mercedes Toyota

Which brands do you love and can’t live without today? Here are my top 10 (not counting my own, Alchimie Forever, of course).

1. US Airways. I learned early on, pick one airline and stick to it. I have stuck by USAir, so much so that they are nice to me. I love their liberal upgrade policy, and I love that we tweet to each other (just today they called me a #fashionista; how can I resist that?). Given that I fly over 100,000 miles per year, this is one of the brands that has the most significant impact on my quality of life (and yes, I am writing from the air right now, Gogo In Flight Internet on all planes is amazing). (Not listed; Interbrand does not include airlines in its listing)

2. Apple. My iPod/iTunes helps me run faster. My MacBookAir makes my purse lighter. My AppleTV will soon replace Comcast. I am yet to get acquainted with Siri (I still hold on to my Samsung), but I am guessing we will be best friends soon. I have had my share of Mac Crashes, and this brand would not have been on my list last year – but I am a definite convert.

3. Coca-Cola. I don’t have soda in the house because that would lead to unhealthy behavior. And nothing starts off my day worse than me getting to the office at 6 am and not finding a Diet Coke in the fridge (yes, my entire team loves them too). I don’t have a Diet Coke every day, but when I need a Diet Coke, nothing will fulfill that need other than a Diet Coke.

4. Google. I can’t even remember life pre-Google. Google tells me what I need to know. Anywhere, anytime, without asking for anything in return. Thank you Google.

5. Evernote. This brand has replaced Moleskine, which would have been on my list last year. I still miss the beautiful colors of those notebooks, the soft sheen of the paper pages. But Evernote has changed my life. It organizes all of the information I collect from Google and other sources into Notebooks that are accessible from everywhere, from every device. Notebooks that I can share with my team and my loved ones. Notebooks that I will never forget on a plane or on a train. (Not listed)

6. American Express. I run a small business. I rely on credit. I travel all the time. I like to earn points. I like to be able to pay by phone from anywhere (not necessarily with a check in front of me) without having to speak to anyone, and without having to pay a fee. Enough said. (#23 on the 2013 listing)

7. Amazon. I don’t shop online. But I do shop on Amazon. I read (still old-fashioned books made out of paper). I haven’t purchased a book in a bricks and mortar bookstore in years (sorry, bricks and mortar book stores, I still love the way you smell…). I am late to the party, but my guess is I will  be ordering things other than books from Amazon really soon. (#19 on the 2013 listing)

8. NARS. As my mother has always told me, when all else fails, wear bright red lipstick and your day will improve. My favorite brights, the ones that make me feel most powerful, are from NARS. Cruella. Dragon Girl. Red Lizard. The perfect red for each occasion, for every day.  (Not listed)

9. Veuve Clicquot. Yes, I love champagne. Yes, I do think champagne makes everything better, victories of course, but also roadblocks and failures. And yes, all in moderation, including champagne and moderation. I love the fact that while this brand was not founded by a woman, a woman ran this company (starting at the young age of 27). And yes, I have to admit, I dream of the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman Award. (Not listed; Moet & Chandon is #99 on the 2013 listing)

10. Hermes. This is my aspirational brand. One of my best friends has a tower of Hermes boxes in her bedroom, and I have to admit that when I saw that I had to take a picture. And I couldn’t help but wish for my own tower. Above all else, this brand represents hand-made, traditional, French, exclusive craftsmanship. Is this superficial of me? Perhaps. Is it impressive that Hermes still conveys this truth in consumers’ minds, after all these years and in this day and age of disposable fashion and flash sales? Absolutely.  (#54 on the 2013 listing)

Skin care is everything, but a little makeup can't hurt…

In the last month or so, I have been on TV and I have taped some videos for our Youtube channel, which means I have probably worn more makeup than in the previous 11 months combined. I am a makeup minimalist – to me, makeup is for color. Being in skin care, I believe in taking great care of my skin, and letting it show through; I think the term tinted moisturizer is a bit of an oxymoron; and I feel claustrophobic with foundation, concealer, and powder on. I have to admit, however, that the right makeup actually feels right, and can make great skin even greater. This past week, I had to go to a Mad Men-themed surprise birthday party and a wedding in Louisiana, so I decided to try a bit more makeup even though there was no camera involved. I moved beyond my favorite mascara and lip pencils… I even tried eyeliner, generating a gasp from my husband who commented on how exotic my eyes are… Here is what is currently in my makeup bag.

  1. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude. Like I said, I really don’t like “skin makeup” – but this feels light going on and evens out my skin tone. Not for every day, but nice for special occasions. Unfortunately, it travels poorly, I have been on three flights in 5 days, and it has leaked on every one of them, so I am not sure I will keep this as a staple.
  2. Alison Raffaele True Concealer, #2. This I love for the inner corner of my eyes and to cover up dark circles after red eyes and nights that are too short. (I also love Alison, and her brushes).
  3. Trish McEvoy Loose Mineral Powder Shade 1. Danielle from Beauty & Main (a favorite Alchimie Forever client) turned me on to this, which is great for those days my skin feels extra shiny).
  4. Nars Stick Blush in Orgasm. I can’t remember where I bought this, but the name just was too good to pass up! I almost never use it, but like having it just in case I feel like rosy cheeks.
  5. The one thing I will not walk out of the house without is mascara. After years of searching for the perfect one, Danielle (again) made me try the Trish McEvoy High Volume Mascara in Jet Black, and I will never switch. It goes on without clumping, stays on, does not run, isn’t waterproof but can withstand a few years, and tubes off. The best.
  6. I am also really into eyebrows (and super loyal to eyebrow guru Erwin Gomez), so I like eyebrow products. Erika from Jeffre Scott (another favorite Alchimie Forever client) recently talked me into trying the Blinc Eyebrow Mousse, in Dark Blonde. Color and eyebrow gel in one – can’t go wrong here.
  7. I have never used eyeliner, as I have never learned how to apply it. However, for years, I have been using the thick silver end of the Capri Line & Illuminate Pencil by Becca, recommended by Angela of Bellacara (can you tell I do my makeup shopping almost exclusively at favorite Alchimie Forever clients?). It sparkles, makes me look like I have diamonds (or tears) around my eyes, and who doesn’t love a little sparkle. Last night, for this Mad Men party, I actually used the black eyeliner side of the pencil for the first time, prompting my husband’s “exotic” comment. Maybe applying eye liner is not as complicated as I have always thought it was.
  8. The one makeup product my Mom has used all her life (and don’t we learn our beauty must-haves from our mothers?) is lipstick. To me, the right red will make any face look classic and put together. I have been using various NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils for years, and the three colors I always have in my purse to match various moods and occasions are Sex Machine, Cruella, and Dragon Girl.